The game between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys didn’t even kick off yet and things were already getting chippy during warm-ups.
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, who had a rough wild-card round game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missing four straight extra points, was getting in some pre-game work. But it happened to be on the 49ers’ side of the field.
They didn’t like that very much.
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Video showed an interaction between members of both teams having some words right in front of Maher, who never engaged the conversation. The 49ers clearly weren’t pleased as they walked in front of Maher’s pre-game ritual, which sparked the argument.
After the heated talk was finished, Maher eventually set up for another field goal from the same position. He knocked it through.
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Though nothing serious came of it, these are the vibes that are expected in this NFC divisional round with two teams looking to cement their spot in the NFC Championship Game.
Both teams have a lot to prove. For San Francisco, third-stringer-turned-playoff-winner Brock Purdy has continued to go on this magical run alongside Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and the many other weapons he has at his disposal. Armed with the top defense in the NFL, pressure is on Purdy to keep the ball moving into the end zone and keep this double-digit win streak alive.
For the Cowboys and Dak Prescott, can this team finally make that elusive run in the playoffs? Prescott’s scramble at the end of last year’s playoff game against San Fran saw the clock run out, leaving everyone scratching their heads.
But, after throwing for five touchdowns last week in Tampa Bay, Prescott got a win and will be looking to do more of the same in another hostile environment.
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This game also might come down to the kicking game between Maher and 49ers veteran Robbie Gould. The Cowboys opted to stay with Maher this week despite his shortcomings against the Bucs.
Perhaps the 49ers were trying to get under his skin to see more shanked kicks in this contest by disrupting his practice reps.
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We’ll see who gets the last laugh when Maher or Gould kicks it off at 6:30 p.m. in the Bay Area.